The Impact of COVID-19 on the Business World
In efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus with global lockdowns and shelter in place orders, the business world is undergoing certain notable changes – the primary being a definitive shift towards virtual operations. The viral pandemic we are currently faced with is propelling the increased adoption of technology with features optimized for remote work. Companies across industries are starting to adapt to the circumstances by shifting their day-to-day business activities online. This shift has resulted in a drastic increase in demand for seamless communication tools, easy-to-use collaboration platforms and secure information sharing capabilities.
One of the key challenges businesses will face during this period of uncertainty is maintaining momentum. Having crystal-clear communication channels and taking measures to ensure that employees are still operating as unified teams can play a significant role in a company’s efficiency during these turbulent times. This is where virtual meetings come in.
Virtual meetings will play a considerable part in helping companies weather the COVID-19 storm and come out well-prepared and ready to fire on all cylinders as soon as the crisis is over. If executed properly with the necessary preparation, virtual meetings can allow companies to minimize friction and maximize productivity despite having a workforce that’s dispersed across the country (or the globe!) What follows are a few best practices for conducting effective virtual meetings during such tumultuous times.
Best Practices in Virtual Meetings
Preparation is of utmost importance in virtual meetings and plays a significant role in the quality of the discussions you have with your team.
The following are a few basic guidelines to effectively prepare for virtual meetings:
- Make sure that all participants know beforehand what the meeting is about
- Provide access to documents that are going to be reviewed in a meeting in advance
- Use a virtual data room to ensure everyone participating has access to meeting documents (and track document delivery)
- Define and communicate the purpose of the meeting, materials required, rules, duration, goals/decisions to make and technology tools required
Decide on team rules and norms during meetings
Making sure that all meeting participants are on the same page regarding the do’s and don’ts during your virtual meetings can significantly improve meeting quality. The following are a few team rules and norms to share with your fellow meeting participants:
- Use technology that is most accessible to everyone
- Test technology before meetings to minimize unwanted hiccups and technical issues that thwart the meeting’s momentum
- Have the necessary documentation and notes readily available (use the virtual data room)
- Show up with your full attention and do not multitask while you’re on the meeting
- Use a phone line or a computer with clear and stable audio
- Find a quiet space to participate
- Use the mute button to prevent background noise
- Turn on the video when necessary and be camera-ready
Virtual meetings can be utterly unproductive if meeting roles have not been clearly defined beforehand. In order to prevent unwanted inertia and confusion, assign specific roles to participants in advance, such as:
- Timekeeper: takes the role of measuring and announcing the time during the meeting
- Facilitator: manages the discussion and moves the group through the meeting agenda
- Note-taker: takes notes during the meeting
- Technical support: facilitate smooth proceedings from a technical standpoint
Plan to avoid technical problems
Technical problems, if not resolved prior to the meeting, can totally compromise the quality of the discussion. Meeting participants should plan to avoid problems such as:
- Audio clarity issues
- Weak internet connections
- Lack of training / understanding of the technology being used for the meeting
- Essential documents that have not been collectively-shared
Use virtual ice-breakers to get the momentum going in meetings
Employing virtual ice-breakers will allow you to kickstart the momentum of the meeting by getting team members engaged.
Make sure that participants and team members aren’t left out during the meetings
The virtual nature of the meetings can make it very easy for certain participants or team members to be left out during meeting conversations. In order to prevent this from happening, make sure to take the time to consider everyone’s input.
Record the virtual meeting
Recording the virtual meeting can prove to be essential for cases such as instructional meetings, training sessions, and depositions where the ability to review recordings can be extremely helpful. Meeting recordings can then be placed in a virtual data room for secure future reference.
Use easy-to-use and cost-effective tools for brainstorming, voting and other group-related activities
There are numerous online tools that can effectively be used to conduct voting, brainstorming and other live group activities. Tools that are easy-to-use and accessible to all participants must be prioritized.
Evaluate the quality of your meeting
Taking a few extra minutes to allow meeting participants to evaluate the meeting and suggest improvements will significantly boost the productivity and quality of future meetings.
Save meeting notes in the VDR and share them from the VDR with notifications
Brevity and clarity must be a priority in collectively-shared meeting notes. The notetaker should make sure that team members are provided with clear and concise information on what happened – situations discussed, decisions made, what’s next, and what each person will do.
About Vault Rooms
For more than 13 years, Vault Rooms has been an industry-leading cloud-based virtual data room provider, proudly facilitating tens of thousands of global M&A transactions across a wide range of industries. Business brokers, investment bankers, accountants, attorneys, private equity firms, and banks can safely collect, organize, share and track business-critical documents on the Vault Rooms platform 24/7/365.